By Dr. Wilson
“Falling Back” the clock is not fun if you have young kids.
As a parent of 3 young children, I usually dread the end of Daylight Savings Time, and I know I’m not alone! Children tend to get up earlier than their parents would like them to. Thus, a child who is sleeping from 8 PM to 6 AM will now be on a 7 PM to 5 AM schedule on the new “Fall Back” time starting this weekend. The sleep period has not moved, but the clock has.
How to Make This Less Annoying.
Dr. Craig Canapari at the Yale Sleep Clinic has some advice:
Fortunately this is pretty easy to address. Move your child’s sleep period later by 30 minutes for three days before “falling back” and then back to their old schedule on the “new time”, effectively moving their sleep period an hour later. In this example, you will have your child go to sleep at 8:30 PM to 6:30 AM for three days before falling back, then move them back to the old schedule at the new time (8 PM to 6 AM).
Not everyone’s child will sleep in 30 minutes later but the important thing is to move bedtime. This approach will hopefully cushion the landing from “falling back” and help you get a little more shuteye. I have found this to be useful in my household and my clinic, where the ramifications of DST seem to extend beyond a simple shift; many children seem to have disrupted sleep at night as well around this transitional period. In my experience, these difficulties may be exaggerated in children with autism, so it may be worth a more gradual transition in sleep periods. If early morning awakenings remain an issue, here are some more strategies for addressing them.